MANILA, Apr 19 (Mabuhay) – A top military official on Tuesday warned the public of possible attacks by the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group during the observance of Holy Week particularly on tourist spots and other crowded areas.
“The observance of Lenten season will provide the opportunity for ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) to launch terror attacks in places where people gather for celebration and vacation,” Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, the Armed Forces deputy chief of staff for operations, told President Benigno Aquino III during a security briefing in MalacaÃ±ang.
In an interview with reporters after the briefing, Bautista clarified that there is no imminent threat from the Abu Sayyaf and other threat groups, saying they were just preparing for contingencies.
He said they were considering possible retaliatory attacks from Abu Sayyaf following the killing and arrest of some of the bandit groupâ€™s key members in a recent encounter in Basilan province in southern Philippines.
Bautista said as security preparations, they have directed the AFP deputy chief of staff for intelligence (J2) to intensify intelligence operations and monitoring not only the Abu Sayyaf but also other threat groups.
The major services of the AFP were also advised to provide the National Capital Region Command additional explosive and ordnance division and K9 teams.
The AFP already issued directive to the unified commands to be extra vigilant and prepare for contingencies for the Holy Week, Bautista said.
Bautista gave this report to Aquino during a briefing on the plans of government agencies for Holy Week.
The official said security has been tightened in ports, beaches and churches â€“ areas where crowds are expected to gather during the Holy Week.
Bautista said they would also monitor future mass protests related to the anniversary of the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) and Labor Day. (MNS)